Work is starting on the redevelopment of one of Bradford’s grandest Victorian buildings.
The former college building on Great Horton Road has been lying empty and falling into disrepair. But it is now set to be converted into 190 luxury apartments – and developers are promising to respect the grandeur of the Grade II listed building while incorporating a cutting edge modern twist.
They are also pledging to preserve as many of the building’s magnificent original features as possible.
Now known as the Old Building, the former Technical School was opened in the grandest of ceremonies on June 23, 1882.
The crowds turned out in force to welcome the then Prince and Princess of Wales, the future Edward VII and Queen Alexandra – and no expense was spared. The school, which had cost £37,000 to build, was officially opened amid widespread celebration.
One newspaper report at the time stated: “From Saltaire Station to the Technical School, a distance of four miles, was one continuous avenue of Venetian masts, streamers, and many coloured banners, while at appropriate points triumphal arches of great magnificence were erected.”
According to the University of Bradford the Technical College was set up to meet the educational needs of the city’s textile industries.
It says the purpose of the school was “technical, scientific, artistic and general instruction in the various processes involved in the production of Worsted, Woollen, Silk and Cotton fabrics …”
Described by developers as “one of the most iconic quintessentially English Heritage buildings in Yorkshire set on a university campus” it has now seen better days.
But it is being lovingly re-purposed as high-end apartments aimed at students, university staff and young professionals.
Its 5,000 sq ft business lounge is being developed in partnership with a leading Innovations and Artificial Intelligence company to create a technology hub in the heart of Bradford.
The company behind the scheme say the conversion will create the “most luxurious on-campus accommodation anywhere in the world”. The redevelopment is expected to cost between £16 million and £18 million.
Aurangzeb Iqbal, from Citywide Investments & Developments said: “Citywide was set up some 15 years ago as a lettings company and through organic growth has now several companies under the umbrella doing lettings, sourcing properties for nationwide investors and development of small, medium and large projects such as the Old Building. The new name for the Old Building is to be ‘Modus Vivendi – the residence’. The name was chosen to show people living in harmony coming from all corners of the globe and conflict zones.”
He said: “The Old Building is an iconic one of its kind building in the whole of Yorkshire capable of being converted into residential apartments with all the pomp and grandeur the building deserves. This was an opportunity too good to miss and despite all the expense and time this was spent it is worth every effort made.”
He said work was due to begin in late October on the Carlton Annex, which will comprise 61 Apartments. This phase of the development is expected to take 12 months.
Mr Iqbal said: “Each and every person who has come to the old building to carry out the numerous reports required for both planning and building have been simply blown away with the exterior and the interior of the building and it is our commitment to the building and the city that we do justice to its development for at least another 150 years.”
“We are hoping to raise the bar in Bradford in luxury to showcase what amazing architectural gems we have in Bradford and how restoration can inject a new life into these beautiful buildings.”
He said: “There are some 3000 foreign students with the numbers increasing at the University with 35% of them bringing spouses and children. This accommodation on the campus will go some way towards accommodating such students.
“The development is aimed at those working in the University and the college and young professionals to create a hub of activity and exchange of ideas.
“We have every intention to keep as many of the original features as we can and indeed one of the science rooms (which looks like something out of the Harry Potter movies) is to remain intact so that any alumni can come and visit and for the residents to see what the lecture rooms look like in the distant past.”
Mr Iqbal came to Bradford in 1968 to join his father who had moved to the city in 1961.
He said: “I lived just up the road at St Margaret’s Place just off Great Horton Road and walked past this building nearly every day to go to the Central library for my studies and never was it in my wildest imagination that I would one day get an opportunity to be involved in such an amazing building.”
In their brochure the developers say: “The Old Building is considered to be one of the most historic and iconic buildings in Bradford city, therefore the ethos of the change of use is to maintain its presence and to recreate a new flagship refurbishment building works that the Old Building deserves with a unique residential apartment development for both the private sectors and the student market.”
“The concept is to raise the profile and standard of design to form luxury residential apartments that can be leased to both the public sectors and students that is eco friendly, efficient and sustainable and Citywide Investors are to be market leaders and not followers.”
“We will fully restore the theatre into an Arts and Culture Convention Centre. We will be introducing a vibrant and spacious Eco Business Hub which will encourage residents to explore and utilise their entrepreneurial spirits to improve and increase the Bradford Economy in partnership with Bradford College and the University.”
“Our vision and aspiration is to deliver accommodation that rivals major cities and transforms and raises the bar on the higher end of luxury living within Bradford. The Old Building has the potential to be part of a catalyst that will be a turning point for the future of Bradford.”
The Old Building was part of Bradford College before the development of the neighbouring David Hockney building left it surplus to requirements.
When the planning application to convert the building was approved by Bradford Council last year it was being used as a Covid-19 vaccination centre.
Citywide Developments believe the scheme will be popular with students, lecturers and city workers.
The building’s grand theatre and its Victorian lecture theatre will be retained and restored.
Phase 1 of the scheme consists of 61 apartments, the second phase consists of 88 apartments and phase 3 consists of 41 apartments. The development will include a business centre, gym, theatre/convention centre, cinema, digital hubs, and an innovation and excellence hub.
When the application was submitted to Bradford Council a statement on behalf of the planners described how several areas of the building had fallen into a serious state of disrepair.
Members were told that while there were some concerns over the plan to create 190 flats the conversion was likely to be one of the only ways the Grade II listed structure would be brought back into use.